About the United Steel Workers
STRONG AND DIVERSE
USW is the largest private sector union in both Canada and North America with more than 225,000 members in Canada and more than 800,000 members continent-wide. USW is Canada’s most diverse union, representing men and women working in every sector of the economy.
Our members work in nearly every industry and in every job imaginable, in all regions of the country. We work in call centres and credit unions, mines and manufacturing plants, offices and oil refineries, restaurants and rubber plants, sawmills and steel mills and security companies. We also work in nursing homes, legal clinics, social agencies and universities. USW stands for unity and strength for workers.
UNIONS MAKE LIVES BETTER FOR WORKERS
Women and men without the protection and bargaining strength of a union must depend on the ‘goodwill’ of management.
A union gives you better pay and benefits, fairness, job security, a voice and respect at work. USW works with you and your coworkers to end unfair or discriminatory treatment at work, to find processes that work instead of arbitrary rules, favouritism and intimidation. Working with USW, you can make work safer and improve the job satisfaction and self-esteem in your workplace.
USW will help anybody who needs a union, whether in traditional industries or in universities, nursing homes, financial services, call centres or transportation and more.
If you or your partner, son, daughter, friend or a neighbour is unhappy about how they are treated at work or too concerned about the consequences of standing up for their rights, calling the steelworkers is the best first step to take.
FAIRNESS IN THE UNION
USW has built its commitment to equality right into the union’s structure through our Women of Steel Program and our National Human Rights Committee.
Women of Steel is one of the leading vehicles in Canadian labour, giving female workers the tools and skills they need to fight for and achieve equality. USW National Women’s Committee works hand in hand with the National Human Rights Committee to make sure that the union is a welcoming environment for all its members.
USW has built internal programs to combat all forms of racial and sexual harassment. The union developed anti-harassment language for collective bargaining with employers and understands the importance of practising what is preached: USW human rights.
The United Steelworkers bargains some of the best wage and benefit packages in Canada, genuine retirement security, health and safety protection, dental programs, job security, anti-harassment protection and tough contract language.
USW local unions and bargaining committees are backed up by a range of expertise. Our staff includes researchers and economists, health and safety experts, a legal department, an education department, human rights experts, a communications team and an organizing department to help new members join USW. Read more in departments and services.
A DEMOCRATIC UNION
Members of the United Steelworkers belong to one of the world’s most democratic unions.
At the local level, the membership of each USW Local elects its own officers every three years, and each bargaining unit elects its own bargaining committee. The members at each workplace, or unit, set goals for bargaining and each member votes by secret ballot on whether to accept the collective agreement.
At the district, national and international levels, the steelworkers ensure that each member has a vote in the election of international officers and national and district directors every four years. Each member votes in a one-member, one-vote secret ballot. This level of democracy is unique amongst unions in Canada. In other unions, officers are elected by a select number of delegates at a convention.
At the local level, USW members vote for their local union officers every three years.
Members of USW make decisions about the union’s policies, direction and programs at several levels at the Canadian USW National Policy Conference and at the USW International Convention, each held on a three-year cycle.
Each geographic district of the united steelworkers holds regular conferences and there are ongoing meetings on everything from human rights to health and safety as well as sector conferences that bring together workers in a common industry. Many local unions are also grouped into area councils that provide yet another level where your voice can be heard.
Democracy in the steelworkers means officers at every level are responsible to the membership.
Winning rights for workers goes far beyond what you win in your collective agreement. Through the United Steelworkers’ political and lobbying efforts, our members and activists campaign at every level of government for better labour laws, laws to protect wages and pensions in bankruptcies, to protect job security, to strengthen the public healthcare system, to improve women’s rights, to expand public education and job-training, to win better trade laws and much more. Steelworkers led the campaign to win the ‘Westray Bill’, which changed Canada’s Criminal Code to make corporate directors and executives accountable for workplace injury and death.
Working for jobs with justice doesn’t stop at the Canadian border. The United Steelworkers is a global union that has forged links and ‘strategic alliances’ with unions and community groups in Canada and around the world to share expertise and expand union power to help workers beyond our ranks.
Corporate globalization has a big impact on the overall economic health of the country, not just on union members’ jobs. The United Steelworkers joined with U.K.’s unit to form Workers Uniting, the first truly global union. Our three million members will build global union activism and challenge the injustices of globalization.
The USW is committed to solidarity with those fighting poverty and joblessness around the world. The Steelworkers’ Humanity Fund is a union-based international development organization. Through funds bargained by union members from their employers, the humanity fund provides more than $1 million a year to support international relief, anti-poverty, and labour development programs.
The dues steelworkers pay come right back to members in a wide-range of union services and benefits available across Canada. Union dues are a small percentage of total earnings which amounts to only cents per day. Dues are tax-deductible and no dues are paid if you are off work due to layoff, injury, sickness or a leave of absence.
Dues pay for the bargaining and pension expertise, education programs, health and safety services, workers’ compensation assistance, grievance representation, research and legal expertise, lobbying work and a special organizing fund that ensures the union keeps growing and gets stronger.
Dues fund the daily operations of your local union and overall union administration. Members have a say in where their money goes. Local and overall union accounts are audited regularly. The international treasurer issues an audited public report to the local unions. This financial information is available to every member. It adds up to accountability at every level.
The USW dues structure also supports an impressive strike and defence fund. These funds are there when members need them the most.
USW dues dollars are collected and banked in Canadian banks and credit unions, under the authority of the Canadian union directors who are elected by Canadian steelworkers.
Dues give the union the power to fight for members’ rights at all levels and on many fronts, today and in the future. Your dues give you a real say in your workplace, along with the right to bargain for better job security, higher wages, a healthy and safe job, a good pension and other benefits.
UNITY AND STRENGTH FOR WORKERS
Being a steelworker is more than an opportunity to exercise your rights and win fairness at work – it is also an opportunity to expand your own skills, to build new friendships and to see the world through new eyes. Being a steelworker is a chance to grow!
Working people of all backgrounds, languages, races and life experiences have come together in the united steelworkers for the common purpose of improving their families’ lives.